Caroline Glick: Lessons of the latest debacle

[Zionsake Editor: Caroline Glick uses four examples to illustrate the vacuousness of the undemocratic scheming of PM Arial Sharon,

  1. The ill-conceived decision to release more than 400 terrorists in exchange for a criminal.
  2. Sharon's intention to deploy Egyptian forces in the Gaza Strip after an IDF withdrawal
  3. Then there is the issue of Iran's nuclear-weapons program.
  4. Impact negatively on the US plan to democratize the Arab and Muslim world.]

The Jerusalem Post Mar. 4, 2004

Imagine the following scenario: In response to threats last summer by Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah to kidnap additional Israelis, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered the IDF to strike at Hizbullah rocket launchers along the border, command and control assets in the Bekaa Valley and kill Hizbullah leaders.

After the initial strikes, Sharon announced that the campaign would continue until Nasrallah returned the bodies of murdered IDF soldiers Benny Avraham, Adi Avitan and Omar Sawayid and kidnapped Israeli drug dealer Elhanan Tannenbaum.

The IDF continued its operations, killing Hizbullah terrorists and destroying its bases while overflying Syrian military installations in Lebanon and Western Syria and besieging Nasrallah. Seeing that Israel was pursuing a plan to destroy his organization, Nasrallah returned the bodies and Tannenbaum through German mediators.

In the aftermath of the successful campaign, it was revealed that Sharon had a past relationship with Tannenbaum's father-in-law. Would anyone care? The furor over Ma'ariv's revelation Wednesday that Sharon had business dealings with Shimon Cohen, Tannenbaum's father-in-law, 30 years ago has little to do with the fact of the matter. Rather, the reason the story resonates with the public is that it is a metaphor for how ill-conceived Sharon's decision to release more than 400 terrorists in exchange for a criminal was. To the top

The story of the Sharon-Tannenbaum connection, which has dominated the public debate since Wednesday morning, does however serve a practical purpose. It illustrates two central problems with Israeli policymaking.

In the first instance, it demonstrates the vacuousness (
confused) of the decision-making processes Sharon has adopted since taking office in 2001. These decisions, taken far away from government or public scrutiny, are made by Sharon and a few handpicked advisers without political or public critique and presented to us as a fait accompli.

Secondly, the Sharon-Tannenbaum affair lays bare the media's failure to foster public debate on either Sharon's policymaking mechanisms or the policies themselves before they are adopted. In the case of Sharon's insistence on releasing more than 400 terrorists in exchange for Tannenbaum, for instance, it is the security of all Israelis, not the prime minister's political career, that is the principal casualty of the deal.

Yet the media debate before the prisoner swap was approved by the cabinet was superficial at best. Its loudest criticism related to the deal's impact on securing information on missing IAF navigator Ron Arad. The question of how the deal would impact the security of Israeli citizens writ large was largely ignored. Today, there are three government policies that are equally if not more vital than the prisoner swap to our national security that are also being carried out in the backrooms with little to no public debate. If we are to take any lessons from the Tannenbaum affair, it is to these issues that they should be applied.

First we have Sharon's intention to deploy Egyptian forces in the Gaza Strip after an IDF withdrawal. To the top

According to news reports, Sharon has proposed to Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak that the Camp David Accord's security limitations on Egyptian forces along the border with Israel be significantly amended.

Today, the treaty provisions limit Egyptian forces to the western Sinai Peninsula and its forces are barred from deploying near the border with Israel. Sharon now is pushing a plan under which Egypt would deploy thousands of security forces along the border and inside the Gaza Strip. The plan was presented to Mubarak last week by Labor Party leader Shimon Peres.

Speaking this week before the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, CGS Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon told lawmakers that the IDF's General Staff is totally opposed to the notion of amending the Camp David Accord in this manner. Ya'alon explained that deploying Egyptian forces in the so-called Philadelphia corridor along the divided city of Rafah would enable Katyusha rockets to be smuggled into Gaza and Katyusha strikes on Ashkelon would force the IDF to launch large-scale ground operations in Gaza.

Of Egypt's gestures toward curbing weapon smuggling along the Rafah border to date, Ya'alon said, "I am not satisfied with the Egyptian action."

The plan to deploy the Egyptian military in Gaza represents a total renunciation of Israeli security doctrine for the past 48 years. Since the 1956 Sinai Campaign, it has been Israel's policy to keep Egyptian forces away from the border. Israel went to war with Egypt in 1956 after Egypt failed to prevent and indeed sponsored terrorist attacks against Israel from the Gaza Strip. In 1967, it was the Egyptian military mobilization on the border that fomented regional war.

The entire rationale behind the separation-of-forces sections of the Camp David Accord was to prevent the eruption of war between Israel and Egypt by keeping Egyptian forces away from Gaza and Israeli population centers.

There has been no government discussion whatsoever of this radical proposal. Apparently the brainchild of Sharon, Peres and Sharon's chief of staff Dov Weisglass, the policy was announced through leaks to the media. Sharon has yet to say anything about this proposal to the public although he is already negotiating it with the US and the Egyptians.

And indeed, there has been no public debate of the issue. All three television channels were granted interviews with Sharon on Wednesday night and not one of them asked him about this stunning departure from a military doctrine he himself was instrumental in shaping.

Will we only have a debate on this after Katyusha rockets rain down on Tel Aviv from Gaza or Egyptian troop movements again precipitate a war?

Then there is the issue of Iran's nuclear-weapons program. Just this past weekend, Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani threatened Israel again after signing military pacts with the Syrian and Lebanese governments. Speaking in Beirut, Shamkhani said that if Israel strikes Iranian nuclear sites, "I can promise you that Ariel Sharon, assuming he stays alive, will appear on television screens and announce that he regrets this folly. He will suffer and scream out in pain."  To the top

Israel's options regarding the Iranian nuclear weapons program are all bad. With the EU busy appeasing Teheran and the Bush administration divided between those advocating military strikes and those advocating adopting the European line, Israel stands more or less alone before the specter of nuclear holocaust. The Iranian leadership has said outright that it does not see its nuclear arsenal as a deterrent force, but rather intends to use it to annihilate Israel.

Israel can either preemptively strike Iran's nuclear facilities; pressure the US to take action against them from its forward bases in Iraq and Afghanistan; or do nothing. Today it would seem that Israel has chosen the third option.

No doubt discussion of this existential threat to the Jewish state should be conducted in secret. But has the cabinet been engaged? Have ministers demanded a presentation on the matter by the air force, military intelligence and the Mossad? Is the Knesset holding hearings on this subject? And while our leaders should make their decisions in private, where are the newspapers and the TV channels and Israel Radio in all of this? Where is a national debate on the threat of physical annihilation? Isn't it better to have this discussion now than after Teheran tests its first nuclear bomb?

Lastly, we have the US plan to democratize the Arab and Muslim world. In recent weeks, the Bush  To the top administration has begun to implement its Greater Middle East Initiative. The US has launched its Arabic satellite news station Al-Hurra and Radio Free Syria radio station in a bid to bring freedom and democracy to our Arab neighbors for the first time in their history.

What is happening is no less than a revolution, albeit a tentative one, in the way the US views its Middle East policy. If in the past, consecutive US administrations have swallowed the Arab propaganda line that no reforms of their dictatorships were possible until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was resolved, today the Bush administration is rejecting this lie.

Speaking in Cairo this week, Undersecretary of State Mark Grossman said, "The effort for reform in Arab countries does not have to wait until there is a full peace." And what is Israel doing in the face of this welcome and courageous American policy? Our government is rejecting it, by deed if not by word.

By courting Mubarak while he leads the charge against the US initiative to bring freedom to the Arab world we are strengthening Mubarak and his authoritarian government that has made Egypt the epicenter of Arab anti-Semitism and the gravest conventional threat to Israeli security.


Sharon's newest adviser Peres was the first to work to scuttle Bush's June 24, 2002, call for democracy in Palestinian society when as foreign minister he created the fiction that a prime minister hand-picked by Arafat would mark the completion of regime change and democratization. Minister Natan Sharansky, who was instrumental in convincing the Bush administration to view democratization of the Arab world as a central aim of its Middle East policy, has been shut out of Sharon's foreign policy debate. (Oleg caricature)

- Peres: No more settlements, Arik

And where is the Israeli media? Aside from laconic reports of the American initiative, buried in the back pages of the newspapers and at the tail ends of news broadcasts, never to be repeated, there has been no media discussion of the strategic ramifications of the American initiative. Rather than support Palestinian journalists who are taking to the streets in droves to protest physical assaults against their colleagues by PA security forces, our journalists went to Ramallah two weeks ago to eat lamb chops with Jibril Rajoub - the man who spearheaded the PA's campaign against freedom in the Palestinian press by torching newspapers and torturing journalists since 1994.

As the US launches the one policy that has a chance of bringing us long-term peace, our policymakers and media elites placate these dictators and woo their henchmen.

There is no doubt that the deal with Hizbullah that brought us Tannenbaum the drug dealer in exchange for 400 terrorists was a mistake. But the best way to rectify the situation is to learn our lessons. We have three tests before us. Our ministers and our media outlets must be called to order. It is time that they do their jobs.

 Reproduced by Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director, Independent Media
 Review and Analysis

Back to Politicians

Zionsake Home

Belief Statements


Holyland Camping

 Israel Boundaries


 To the top

Ariel Sharon: hijacking Israeli democracy to the oval office

David Bedein 11 April 2004
Israel Resource News Agency
In a democratic system, when his foreign policy initiative of a head of state is rejected by the cabinet, government, legislature, and the  political party of that head of state, such a leader would normally be expected to at least drop his foreign policy initiative, if not resign

And so it was:  Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s January 2004 initiative to demolish 21 Israeli farming communities in the Katif district of Gaza and hand them over to the PLO, now at war with the state of Israel, was not approved by  the Israeli gov’t, the Israeli security cabinet, the Knesset parliament or by the Likud central committee.  As Hebrew University Law Professor Eliav Schochetman put it, an  Israeli prime minister who wished to demolish or relocate Jewish  communities would require a clear majority of the Israeli Knesset to support new legislation in that regard. Otherwise, noted Schochetman, the Prime Minister simply has no authority to act in this regard.

Even so, Sharon brings his Katif demolition plan to the White House this coming Wednesday, openly stating that he wants  a situation where the US government will endorse Sharon’s program for unilateral retreat and removal of Jews from anywhere in the Gaza strip. Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said it more explicitly, saying that that if the Israeli Knesset or the Israeli cabinet were then to reject the idea, then the US and other nations would place int’l sanctions on Israel.

And since Olmert oversees the Israel government controlled radio and television, he
has seen to it that the Israel State TV and Israel State Radio, known as the Israel Broadcasting Authority, drum into the heads of the Israeli people that the 8500 Katif residents live “in the heart of Gaza”, even though the Katif farming communities were developed on sand dunes which are located far from the city of Gaza or from the UNRWA camps which dominate the Gaza strip. 

Sharon and Olmert have engaged the services of  PR experts to market the idea of the Jews in Katif as a “ burden on the people of Gaza” to both the American government and to Jewish organizations throughout the US, so as to galvanize support for their plan. For the first time since the Israeli Labor Party left power in February 2001, the Israeli government will work with the Americans for Peace Now to lobby Congress  to support a program that calls for unilateral eradication of Israeli communities established in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
Sharon’s closest friends and colleagues have abandoned him. Sharon’s closest friend in the media for the past 55 years, Uri Dan, issued an open letter to Sharon on the day before Passover,  in which Dan posed  ten questions to Sharon which challenged the wisdom of Sharon’s plan for the removal of the 21 Jewish farming communities of Katif.  One of those questions warned Sharon that the vacuum left from unilateral retreat could very well transform Katif into an Arab terror haven.

Sharon has not responded to the hard questions put to him by Uri Dan.

Sharon has a new friend and  advisor- Dov Weisglass, who acts as Sharon’s lawyer and office manager. Before directing Sharon’s affairs in government, Weissglass acted as the lawyer for the Director of PLO finances, Muhamad Rashid, and as the lawyer and head of investments for the PLO’s casino in Jericho.  In his position, Weissglass has renewed Israeli financial transfers to the armed forces of the Palestinian Authority that are directly involved in terror actions against Israeli citizens, throughout Israel.

To make matters worse, the man responsible for running the terror operations of the PLO for the past four years, Jibril Rajoub, will also be coming to Washington this week to ask the U.S. for appropriate weapons to  help him take over the Gaza strip once Israel withdraws its civilians.

Rajoub is the same PLO official who requested and received sophisticated weaponry from the U.S. during  the first stage of the Oslo process, under the pretext that the PLO was going to fight Islamic terror groups.

Israel was then under the leadership of Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, who went along with the idea.

However, Rajoub openly incorporated Islamic terror groups within the PLO security forces who launched a terror war against Israel, while introducing police state control of his own people.
Today, the situation repeats itself, Rajoub asks for weapons from the US, again under the pretext of controlling Islamic terror, and  proclaims that he has the support of the Israeli security establishment and the Israeli government to take over  Gaza  in other words, Rajoub intends to ethnically cleanse Gaza of its Jews, with the approval of Ariel Sharon. 

And since the PLO claims the Negev and Israel’s coastal region under the premise of the “right of return” to lands lost in 1948, Rajoub’s army will not stop with Katif.

Sharon’s office was asked if the Israeli Prime Minister would deny giving sanction to arming Rajoub. Sharon’s office would not deny giving sanction to arming Rajoub. The Israel Foreign Ministry and Israel Defence Ministry also refused comment.

Most recently, Rajoub addressed the board of governors of the American Jewish Committee and, indeed, endorsed terrorism against Israelis who live beyond the 1967 lines, in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria or Gaza. The director of the AJC Jerusalem office would issue no statement attacking Rajoub, saying that Rajoub’s appearance was approved by the Israeli government.

The question remains whether the Bush Administration will accept a situation of an Israeli government ruled by the arbitrary decrees of Ariel Sharon and a Palestinian Arab entity ruled by a thug.

President Bush has long stated that his purpose is to see a democratic Palestinian Arab entity coexist with Israel, the only democratic state in the middle east.

If Bush welcomes Sharon’s imposed initiative and arms Rajoub, the American government will snuff out one democracy and create yet one more Arab totalitarian regime in the middle east.

HELP COUNTER anti-Semitism and Tribulation with PROSPERITY in Israel

Return to Politics